Thursday, 6 May 2021

Law Week showcases legal issues in the ACT

Every year in May, the ACT Law Society coordinates Law Week in Canberra — six days of events to promote public understanding of the law and its role in society.

Law Week has been held annually in the ACT since the 1990s, showcasing a range of events for the public and the legal community, including a formal dinner, a comedy speaking competition, a quiz night, and a range of forums and seminars.

Law Week events are open to the public, and most have free registration (although we do ask for optional contributions to support our Law Week charity). All proceeds this year will go to Raw Potential Canberra, a charity that helps disadvantaged youth in the region.

The people who attend Law Week are not just lawyers — we encourage any person with an interest in legal issues to attend the events on offer. This year, some of the topics being covered include Aboriginal land rights, elder abuse, youth law, raising the age of criminal responsibility, human rights, and climate change. There’s also a family day at the Supreme Court where you can learn about the judicial system in the ACT.

Law Week in the ACT wouldn’t be possible without the many local organisations who put on events during the week. These include the ACT Supreme Court, the ACT Bar Association, Legal Aid ACT, Canberra Community Law, the Women's Legal Centre ACT, the Women Lawyers Association ACT, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, the ACT Raise the Age Coalition, and the Council on the Ageing (COTA) ACT. Law Week is made possible with the support of principal sponsor LawCover — they have been a longstanding supporter of Law Week, and we thank them for their ongoing sponsorship.

A full schedule of Law Week events is available on our website at

Summary of free Law Week events

Please note that registration is required for all events.

The Annual Blackburn Lecture — Tuesday 11 May, 12.30pm, Pilgrim House Conference Centre.

ACAT President Graeme Neate AM was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for his significant service to the law as a leading contributor to Indigenous land rights, and to legal education. His topic is "50 years after the Gove land rights judgment: Sir Richard Blackburn and Aboriginal land rights" — the lecture will explore the context of the original Gove Aboriginal land rights case, and the legislation that ultimately overcame the effect of that case.

Raise the Age forum — Wednesday 12 May, 12pm, ACT Legislative Assembly.

The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and the ACT Raise the Age Coalition are excited to host a community forum on Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility — keeping kids out of prison. Hear from experts about the disproportionate impact of the punitive criminal justice system on First Nations children, and the impact that raising the age could have on vulnerable kids in the ACT.

Scaling up Human Rights Protections in the ACT — Wednesday 12 May, 5.30pm, Canberra Community Law.

In 2004, the passing of the Human Rights Act was heralded as ground-breaking legislation. Seventeen years on, how has the Human Rights Act lived up to its overarching goal of “bringing rights home” to Canberrans? Canberra Community Law presents a panel of experts who will offer their perspectives on future proposals and directions to improve human rights protection in the ACT, including reflections on human rights opportunities and challenges.

The Climate Change Bill — Thursday 13 May, 12.30pm, ACT Law Society.

Local barrister Marcus Hassall will explain the new Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020, which was introduced to the federal parliament by Zali Steggall, the independent member for Warringah.

Youth law — Friday 14 May, 10am, webinar.

Legal Aid ACT's Youth Law Centre (YLC) is Canberra’s free legal service dedicated to young people aged 12-25. Log in to this online session to learn more about the centre, and ask questions, from Youth Law Centre solicitors.

New pathways to address elder abuse in the ACT — Friday 14 May, 11.30am, COTA ACT.

Legal Aid ACT and Council on the Ageing (COTA) ACT host a panel discussion relating to new elder abuse referral pathways in the ACT.  The panel will explore the new elder abuse offence and powers given to the ACT Human Rights Commission to investigate complaints against vulnerable adults, as well as reforms to the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal's powers in respect of guardians and attorneys.

Court Family Day — Saturday 15 May, 10am to 10pm, ACT Supreme Court.

Ever wondered what goes on behind the doors of a courtroom? Want to learn about what judges and lawyers do at court? The Women Lawyers Association of the ACT is hosting this Court Family Day for practitioners, their families, and interested members of the public.